Thursday, May 26, 2011

Two Become One: Julienne & Risheem

Note: This is part of a series on Love, Sex, & Relationships from a Christian Perspective. It was inspired by "No Ring, No Ting".

It's been awhile, but I'm another couple decided to open up about their marriage in a society that seems to place little value in the institution. This Q&A is very special since it's coming from the perspective of both the wife and husband, whereas the past features were from the ladies' POV. 

FAR: How important do you feel sex is in marriage?

J&R:  We believe that sex is extremely important in a marriage. It is in that time of intimacy that a couple draws closer to one another.

FAR: Do you feel there are certain sexual acts that even married folks should not do? Why or why not?

J&R: The Bible says that the bed is undefiled, we believe as long as both parties agree to the act, and it not compromise their marriage it can be permissible.

FAR: Do you believe there is a difference between abstinence and chastity?

J&R: We will say the both are one in the same, because it is the act of abstaining.

FAR: Can and should chastity be practiced in marriage?

J&R: We believe that chastity should not be practiced in a marriage.

FAR: How do you keep the romance burning in marriage, especially with kids?

J&R: It is important that any married couple who has kids find time to getaway alone with each other at least twice a year even if it is an overnight getaway.

FAR: Did you and your husband wait until the honeymoon to have sex? Yes or no, are there any regrets?

J&R: Yes we waited until the honeymoon to have sex and we have no regrets at all.

FAR: What do you think the role of the husband is in the Christian marriage? What about the role of the wife?

J&R: The role of a husband in a Christian marriage is to first love the Lord with all his heart, next to be a provider for his family, and lastly love his wife as Christ loves the church.

The role of wife in a Christian marriage is to love and submit to her husband, and to be a woman of great virtue.

FAR: Do you think it’s okay for one partner in the marriage to withhold sex from the other for any reason? What about affection?

J&R: If both parties decide to abstain from sex for the sake of fasting it is okay, but for one to withhold the answer will be "No". Our bodies belong to one another. Affection should never be withheld.

FAR: What role does communication play in your relationship?

J&R: Communication plays a very important role, without communication the marriage is dead and without hope.

FAR: How would you advise Christian women who are not interested in being intimate with their husbands?

J&R: If a woman refuses to be intimate with her husband, it opens the door for the enemy to cloud the mind of a man. What you are not willing to do for your husband, there is a woman out there who will.

FAR: Who proposed? How did the proposal go?

J&R: I proposed to my wife, and it was for sickness and health, as she laid in the bed very ill, I asked her to be my wife. It went well, because the next day she was feeling better and reading wedding magazines.

If you are interested in talking about sex and relationships from the Christian perspective, email me at

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hezekiah Walker is Being Enthroned

Enthroned??? Hey, I like his music, but as my friend Russ pointed out, "Isn't Jesus supposed to be the only one on the throne?". *Confused*

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Quick Hair Rant...

The beautiful Esperanza Spalding. (Photo Source)

So I've been natural for over a year now, and have worked to accept my hair- with all it's waves, kinks, curls, and yes, naps. Coming from a girl who use to HATE poofiness, I'm proud of my progression.

But then I have days like today where people go out of their way to praise my hair when the fro is flattened. Out of laziness, my usual poof has been brushed back put into a bun (this is always my default hairstyle and has been since childhood). I really need to wash my hair, but instead, I've turned to old faithful, lol. So the last few days, I've looked like this:

 Not bad. But what's bothering me is how the same co-workers who have made it clear that my natural hair is a FAIL had to let me know how GREAT my hair looked like this. One said, "See, you have *good hair*." I hate that term. She should've just said, "Thank God you slapped some gel in that bird's nest of yours! NOW you look acceptable again!"

It's not that I hate wearing my hair back. Like I said, it's been my easy, go-to style for decades. And it's not that I need constant approval on my hairstyles (if I did, I would never have transitioned, lol). It's just I wonder if people will ever see the beauty in a full head of healthy highly textured hair, like Esperanza's. Or mine.

Me (and Z) on Mother's Day with my usual, thick afro.

What Did You Do This Non-Rapture Weekend?

In news that has surprised no one, the Rapture didn't occur on Saturday. Well, this non-event did surprise Harold Camping, who emerged briefly to tell a reporter that he was "flabbergasted" his prophecy was incorrect. From Yahoo news:

"It has been a really tough weekend," Camping said Sunday, after emerging from his Alameda, California home for the first time to talk to a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle. "I'm looking for answers ... But now I have nothing else to say," he said, adding that he would make a full statement today.

Camping's PR aide, Tom Evans, told the L.A. Times that the group is "disappointed" that 200 million true believers weren't lifted up to heaven on Saturday while everyone else suffered and eventually died as a series of earthquakes and famine destroyed the Earth. "You can imagine we're pretty disappointed, but the word of God is still true," Evans said. "We obviously went too far, and that's something we need to learn from." The group posted 2,000 billboards around the country warning of the rapture, while Camping--an uncertified fundamentalist minister--spread the word on his radio show.

Camping's Family Radio, which airs on 66 U.S. stations, has apparently rebranded itself quickly. Business Insider notes that the station's website has scrubbed all mentions of the Judgment Day. The site previously featured a countdown clock to the May 21 rapture on its homepage."

You can read the whole story hereThat website might be scrubbed of all the doomsday date setting, but this #RaptureFail will remain in the hearts and minds of many for quite some time. And quite honestly, that bothers me.

True, I poked fun at Camping a bit here on FAR and even more so in real life, even in a meeting at work last week. But over the weekend, I sat and thought about how so many are laughing not at the date setting, but at the teachings that Christ will return again one day. Many have used this Apocalypse Not as a platform to ridicule Christians and Christianity as a whole. And that's been the most hurtful part of this entire story.

On Saturday, about three hours before the supposed End, I was rebaptized. I'm going to write about this in a separate post, but I wanted to mention it now. I spent the morning like I do many weekends, a trip to Starbucks for a frap I have no business consuming because it has a quadrillion calories, then on to my mom's for a visit. K was busy at a Lupus Charity Walk (Yay! Proud of you, Baby!). At three, we headed to our Anglican church, and with just our pastor, my sponsor Marta and us two, I was re-welcomed into God's family.

It's strange that on a day when thousands were preparing for the End, I was getting a chance at a New Beginning. What did you do this weekend? Comments welcomed!

The Newark Star-Ledger I picked up on Saturday.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Well, Meteorologists Get it Wrong a Lot, Too...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Preparing for "The End"

Believe it or not, Harold Camping's Rapture prophecy came up in a meeting at work this morning (!). I felt a tinge of discomfort that I was questioned if I believed in it (since I'm a Christian, of course I believe every whack job with a large King James Version Bible, a camera and some air time... *rollseyes*). But there are some preparing to be caught up in the sky:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Refuting Harold Camping

 Sadly, a few people I know are a bit nervous over Harold Camping's "prophecy" that Saturday will mark the beginning of the end. If you are one of them (or know someone who is), check out the short video below. It might help ease your fears.

Hank Hanegraaff Refutes Harold Camping's May 21, 2011 Judgment Day Prediction from Christian Research Institute on Vimeo.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a "fairy story"

I guess I'm into fairies, elves and dwarfs then. From CBS News:

"Physicist Stephen Hawking believes there is no afterlife, and that the concept of heaven is a "fairy story" for people who fear death.

In an interview published in the Guardian, Hawking - author of the bestselling "A Brief History of Time" - said that when the brain ceases to function, that's it.

"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail," he told the Guardian's Ian Sample. "There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."

Hawking, 69, who has survived for nearly five decades with a motor neurone disease that doctors believed would kill him while he was still in his early 20s, said he does not fear death. He also said that having lived with the prospect of death from his incurable illness has ultimately led him to enjoy life more.

"I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first," he said.

Hawking was the target of criticism from religious circles when his most recent book, "The Grand Design," argued that there was no need for a creator to explain the universe's existence.

In the Guardian interview - conducted in advance of his lecture at this week's Google Zeitgeist meeting in London, where he will address the question: "Why are we here?" - Hawking rejects an afterlife and emphasizes the need for people to realize their full potential on Earth.

When asked what is the value of knowing why are we here, Hawking replied, "The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can't solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those societies most likely to survive. We assign them higher value."

When asked what he found most beautiful in science, Hawking said, "Science is beautiful when it makes simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations. Examples include the double helix in biology, and the fundamental equations of physics."

Hawking said that our existence is down to pure chance, and that one's goal should be to "seek the greatest value of our action."

I'm not the brightest bulb in the pack, but I missed something here. Hawking was asked about the value of knowing WHY we are here, and responded above about societies, survival, Darwin, yada yada. But what I'd like to know if, as he says, our very existence is "pure chance", WHY ARE WE HERE? Why should I care to seek the "greatest value of our action"? Why should my personal goals include the consideration of "our" anyway? And what if I belong to a society that isn't fittest? Wouldn't natural selection wipe out my goals, my greatest value of action anyway? I'm not being facetious here, either.  If anyone out there wants to take a stab at WHY, from a Darwinian and atheistic point of view we're here, I'd like to know. It's only fair. I asked believers why doesn't God heal amputees. It's the nonbelievers turn.

Teen Allegedly Raped, Then Made to Apologize to Her Church

Wow, SMH, at this one. From MSNBC:

"Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the case of a 15-year-old girl who prosecutors say was raped by a fellow church member and forced to stand before the congregation to apologize for getting pregnant. 

Ernest Willis is charged with forcibly raping Christina Anderson twice during the summer of 1997, when she was his children's baby sitter and he was 39. Lawyers for Willis, now 52, say in court documents that he will admit having sex with the girl once but maintains it was consensual.

Prosecutor Wayne Coull said he expects Anderson to be among the first witnesses called when the trial begins May 23 in Merrimack Superior Court. The trial is expected to last four days.
The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they were victims of sex crimes, but Anderson, now 29, asked that her name be made public.

Former Trinity Baptist Church Pastor Charles Phelps is on the prosecution's list of witnesses. Anderson told police that Phelps arranged for her to move to Colorado and forced her to write a letter of apology she had to read to the fundamentalist congregation.

She then was told to move into a room in the Phelpses' home until she was to leave for Colorado, which Anderson said happened within days.

Anderson was home-schooled in Colorado, and gave birth to the baby there, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported. She gave the child up for adoption, the newspaper said.

Phelps is adamant that he reported the allegations to Concord police and was critical of them for failing to act. Police said they tried to investigate in 1997 but couldn't find Anderson. They didn't locate her until last year, when friends and Internet posts revealed she was living in Arizona under her married name.

The Union Leader reported that a detective with the Concord police contacted Anderson, the married mother of three more children, after learning of the case through a Facebook page entitled, "Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Cult Survivors."

To read the whole story, click here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Adventures in Preachers' Kids: Nina Simone

If you are a fan of Jazz like I am, you're probably familiar with the late Nina Simone, one of the most celebrated American Jazz singers of the past century. But did you know that she was a preacher's kid (like me)? From her official website:

"Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina on February 21st, 1933, Nina’s prodigious talent as a musician was evident early on when she started playing piano by ear at the age of three. Her mother, a Methodist minister, and her father, a handyman and preacher himself, couldn’t ignore young Eunice’s God-given gift of music. Raised in the church on the straight and narrow, her parents taught her right from wrong, to carry herself with dignity, and to work hard. She played piano – but didn’t sing – in her mother’s church, displaying remarkable talent early in her life."

To learn more about her life, music and legacy, click here If you listen to the song below, you can hear the heavy Gospel influence on her music.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Over One Thousand Women Raped in Congo- A Day

A Congolese rape victim comforts her young son who was hurt during her attack. (Photo Credit)

From MSNBC comes this very disturbing story:

"More than 1,100 women are raped every day in Congo, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health on Tuesday concluded. 

The study found that more than 400,000 women aged between 15 and 49 were raped during a 12-month period in 2006-2007, AFP reported.

The findings put the number of rapes at 26 times higher than a previous report from the United Nations, which said the number was 15,000 for the same period.

"Our results confirm that previous estimates of rape and sexual violence are severe underestimates of the true prevalence of sexual violence occurring," Amber Peterman, lead author of the study, told AFP.

The study reportedly did not gather data on sexual violence among boys and men, or in girls younger than 15 and older than 49.

"Even these new, much higher figures still represent a conservative estimate of the true prevalence of sexual violence because of chronic underreporting due to stigma, shame, perceived impunity, and exclusion of younger and older age groups as well as men," Peterman said.

The study also gave mention to a Human Rights Watch report that sexual violence in Congo doubled from 2008 to 2009.

The giant Central African nation was mired in civil war from 1996-2002, and the east remains awash in weapons and rebel groups who terrorize civilians."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just 11 Days Until the End of the World!

Harold Camping (Photo Credit)

Well, according to Harold Camping anyway. Have you seen the billboards? Or the crazy signs? Right next to a Sleepy's billboard near my home there's a rather large one, so I see the message quite often. From NPR:

"Brian Haubert grabs some pamphlets and marches toward the flea market in Palmyra, N.J. Armed with a poster that trumpets Judgment Day on May 21, 2011, he braces for rejection. Announcing God's wrath is not always a popular message.

"I've been called a heretic," says Haubert, a 33-year-old actuary. "I've been told I read the wrong Bible. And then there's the occasional person who seems to be genuinely interested," he says.

His friend and fellow believer, Kevin Brown, uses a gentler approach, not confronting people or engaging in conversation, just politely handing out Judgment Day pamphlets.

Brown, who owns his own nutrition and wellness business, is soft-spoken and polished, not someone you'd imagine giving away doomsday tracts. But he says the clock is ticking.

"People need to know," Brown says, "and God commands us to share the Gospel about the end of the world. He says if we do not share the Gospel then their blood will be on our hands, whether they believe or not. God's been moving me to do this."

Spreading The Word

Haubert and Brown are two of a small — or not so small, who knows? — army of Christians sounding the alarm. They drive caravans and put up billboards, hand out tracts and try to convince friends and family that Judgment Day is upon us. Brown says this message is laced throughout the Bible, but only some can decode it. It will happen this way:

On May 21, "starting in the Pacific Rim at around the 6 p.m. local time hour, in each time zone, there will be a great earthquake, such as has never been in the history of the Earth," he says. The true Christian believers — he hopes he's one of them — will be "raptured": They'll fly upward to heaven. And for the rest?

"It's just the horror of horror stories," he says, "and on top of all that, there's no more salvation at that point. And then the Bible says it will be 153 days later that the entire universe and planet Earth will be destroyed forever."

Most Bible scholars note that even Jesus said he had no idea when Judgment Day would come. But May 21 believers like Haubert are unfazed.

"I've crunched the numbers, and it's going to happen," he says.

Haubert says the Bible contains coded "proofs" that reveal the timing. For example, he says, from the time of Noah's flood to May 21, 2011, is exactly 7,000 years. Revelations like this have changed his life.

"I no longer think about 401(k)s and retirement," he says. "I'm not stressed about losing my job, which a lot of other people are in this economy. I'm just a lot less stressed, and in a way I'm more carefree."

He's tried to warn his friends and family — they think he's crazy. And that saddens him.

"Oh, it's very hard," he says. "I worry about friends and family and loved ones. But I guess more recently, I'm just really looking forward to it."

Haubert is 33 and single. Brown is married with several young children, and none of them shares his beliefs. It's caused a rift with his wife — but he says that, too, was predicted in the Bible.

"God says, 'Do you love husband or wife over me? Do you love son or daughter over me?' There is a test. There is a trial here that the believers are going through. It's a fiery trial."

As May 21 nears, Brown says he feels as if he's on a "roller coaster." What if he is raptured but his family is left behind?

"I'm crying over my loved ones one minute; I'm elated the next minute," he says. "It's all over the place."

Read the rest here. So are Camping's teachings. He has foretold the date of the Rapture before; the last date he gave was for 1994. I'm actuallysurprised, in this day and age of the Internet, that so many people have been taken in by this false prophet. Google his name and a trillion hits will come up about his past failed prophesies. So what gives?

Last fall, Bible Answer Man Hank Hanegraaff dedicated part of a show to exposing Camping's false teachings. Go here to listen.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Of India & Girls

 A 21 month old baby girl cries as she is weighed. She is a mere 11 pounds. (MSNBC)

I read this story yesterday and was deeply saddened. It reminded me in many ways of the situation in China. From MSNBC:

"The room is large and airy, the stone floors clean and cool — a welcome respite from the afternoon sun. Until your eyes take in the horror that it holds. Ten severely malnourished children — nine of them girls.
The starving girls in this hospital ward include a 21-month-old with arms and legs the size of twigs and an emaciated 1-year-old with huge, vacant eyes. Without urgent medical care, most will not live to see their next birthday.

They point to a painful reality revealed in India's most recent census: Despite a booming economy and big cities full of luxury cars and glittering malls, the country is failing its girls.

Early results show India has 914 girls under age 6 for every 1,000 boys. A decade ago, many were horrified when the ratio was 927 to 1,000.

The discrimination happens through abortions of female fetuses and sheer neglect of young girls, despite years of high-profile campaigns to address the issue. So serious is the problem that it's illegal for medical personnel to reveal the gender of an unborn fetus, although evidence suggests the ban is widely circumvented.

"My mother-in-law says a boy is necessary," says Sanju, holding her severely malnourished 9-month-old daughter in her lap in the hospital. She doesn't admit to deliberately starving the girl but only shrugs her own thin shoulders when asked why her daughter is so sick.
She will try again for a son in a year or two, she says.

Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense in marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents' funeral pyres.
But it's not simply that girls are more expensive for impoverished families. The census data shows that the worst offenders are the relatively wealthy northern states of Punjab and Haryana.

In Morena, a sun-baked, largely rural district in the heart of India, the numbers are especially grim. This census showed that only 825 girls for every 1,000 boys in the district made it to their sixth birthdays, down from an already troubling 829 a decade ago.

Though abortion is allowed in India, the country banned revealing the gender of unborn fetuses in 1994 in an attempt to halt sex-selective abortions. Every few years, federal and state governments announce new incentives — from free meals to free education — to encourage people to take care of their girls.

In Morena, a Madhya Pradesh state government program offers poor families with one or two daughters a few thousand rupees (a few hundred dollars) for every few years of schooling, and more than 100,000 rupees ($2,250) when they graduate high school.

But while a handful of Indian women have attained some of the highest positions in politics and business — from late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi — a deep-rooted cultural preference for sons remains.

Even the government has accepted that it has failed to save millions of little girls.

"Whatever measures that have been put in over the last 40 years have not had any impact," India's Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said last month when announcing the census numbers."

Read the entire story here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Creepiest Babyshower Cakes Ever

My friend Kathy posted a link to this site this morning on Facebook, and I found it appallingly funny. Check out this unappetizing baked goods.

See more creepy cakes here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

How Should Christians Respond to Bin Laden's Death?

Okay, in the one instance where my lack of watching TV left me unaware, I walked into work THE ONLY person to not know Bin Laden was killed yesterday in Pakistan by U.S. forces. My reaction: first, shock. Second, elation. Yeah, that's right, I said it, elation. I waddled my way over to my coworkers, with a full cheesy smile on my face, proud that the jerk was dead.

The names of the dead at a 9-11 Memorial in Essex County, NJ.

I still remember 9-11. It was such a beautiful day, the sky perfectly clear. I was 1 19 year old college junior, and just as the first plane struck, I was standing in a massive line trying to buy books at the University Bookstore. The radio was on, and the DJ broke into the oldies music to deliver the shocking news... news so shocking, it didn't register with me. It wasn't until I walked into the freshman center where I worked, and saw my bosses' faces awash with fear that it hit me. And that feeling- of sheer chaos, worry, anxiety- still haunts me. I remember throwing my old school Nokia in my purse when my reception suddenly disappeared. The feeling of frustration upon learning I had no way home since NJ Transit had halted all bus and train service. And then looking up and seeing- and smelling- the smoke wafting across the river from Manhattan to Jersey.

All of those feelings flooded back when I learned of Bin Laden's death. And to be honest, I don't feel sad. Not at all. Nope, happiness remains. But as a Christian, and not just a still frightened Jersey girl, am I right to feel this way? According to the Rev. James Martin, not so much. From HuffPo:

"As someone who worked at Ground Zero in the days and weeks following 9/11 I rejoiced to hear that Osama Bin Laden's long reign of terror, which had dealt death, destruction and untold misery to millions across the world, had finally come to an end. As a Christian, though, I cannot rejoice at the death of a human being, no matter how monstrous he was.

On the morning of Sept. 11 2001, I was working at my desk at America magazine in Manhattan. My mother, who lives in Philadelphia, called me to tell me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. When I ran out of my office and looked down Sixth Avenue, I could see the towers smoldering, inky black smoke pouring out of their tops. Already sirens were blaring, and men and women were running through the streets weeping, frantically trying to make calls on cell phones to loved ones. 

.. I am not blind to the death and destruction caused by Osama bin Laden.

Yet Christians are in the midst of the Easter Season, when Jesus, the innocent one, not only triumphantly rose from the dead but, in his earthly life, forgave his executioners from the cross, in the midst of excruciating pain. Forgiveness is the hardest of all Christian acts. (Love, by comparison, is easier.) It is also, according to Jesus, something that is meant to have no limit. No boundaries. Peter once asked him how often he was supposed to forgive. Seven times? "Not seven times," answered Jesus, "but, I tell you, seventy-seven times." In other words, times without number. "Forgive your brother or sister from your heart," he said. Judgment and punishment, says Jesus, is up to God.
So the question is whether the Christian can forgive a murderer, a mass murderer, even -- as in the case of Osama bin Laden -- a coordinator of mass murder across the globe. I'm not sure I would be able to do this, particularly if I had lost a loved one. But as with other "life" issues, we cannot overlook what Jesus asks of us, hard as it is to comprehend. Or to do.
For this is a "life" issue as surely as any other. The Christian is not simply in favor of life for the unborn, for the innocent, for those we care for, for our families and friends, for our fellow citizens, for our fellow church members or even for those whom we consider good, but for all. All life is sacred because God created all life. This is what lies behind Jesus's most difficult command: "I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." ...

Osama bin Laden was responsible for the murder thousands of men and women in the United States, for the deaths and misery of millions across the world, and for the death of many servicemen and women, who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives. I am glad he has left the world. And I pray that his departure may lead to peace. 

But as a Christian, I am asked to pray for him and, at some point, forgive him. And that command comes to us from Jesus, a man who was beaten, tortured and killed. That command comes from a man who knows a great deal about suffering. It also comes from God."

He's right of course. But for today, as pathetic as it might be, I'm going to be elated. Pray for me, folks. To read the whole article, click here.
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